The stories that inspire us – Half-Life

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Growing up in the 90’s means that I’ve been witness to some incredible technological advances throughout my life. Video games in particular literally leaped from 16 bit all the way to 64 in a matter of years, but that’s just talking about numbers. The experience of a story is what resonates through us all and one particular story that I first discovered all the way back in 1999 still resonates through me. I’m talking about Half-Life and yes I am one of the people who played it quite soon after release at 10 years old.

TOP 30 BEST Video Games of the 90s (BEST RETRO GAMES) | Chaos - YouTube

Back then parents didn’t really take much note of game ratings and I’m not sure there even was anything strict to really regulate them at the time. Summer holidays consisted of being out all day and then watching the likes of South Park at night or the late movie which again probably had an age rating, there wasn’t a snowflake in sight and well most of my generation turned out okay…

And then this game came along that was included in one of my friends brand new Dell PC’s. It carried an air of mystery as neither of us had heard about it back then and so we went in to Half-Life totally and completely blind. By that year, ’99, the concept of a first person shooter game was relatively fresh from the birth of the genre earlier that decade with Wolfenstein paving the way to Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem, Alien Trilogy and even Goldeneye for the N64. all of which, deserve a nod. Neither of us knew then what we were getting into.

Lifetime fans such as myself sometimes forget that Half-Life is a first person shooter game because the story is so rich and immersive from the very start – something rare for the era and so after installing this game we began.

Games slowly immerse you these days through a sometimes cinematic sequence where very little is required to do other than get a feel for the environment or what is to come. You have the makers of Half-Life to thank for that as early on, in fact for the first half hour of the game and after what appears to be a calm and very visual but solitary train ride commute, you are Gordon Freeman, theoretical physicist who is late for an experiment.

Half-Life 1 Train Ride - YouTube

This clever but immersive way of starting the game heightens the sense of weight for a situation which is about to unfold. You are late for work and rushing around – something many of us can relate to. You are introduced to other scientists who also work at this extensive Black Mesa Research Facility. The sense of mystery is overloaded while you are unaware of a sinister build up to this experiment which subsequently goes wrong and then the real game begins…

The experiment gone wrong results in something called a resonance cascade and as you the player are in the test chamber when it unfolds. You see just a snippet of what has been unleashed. Another world full of primitive creatures has began to merge with the one of Black Mesa and Freeman must now fight his way through a heavily damaged work environment to look for answers and try and clean things up.

It’s part Stephen King part alien blasting shooter because eventually Freeman comes across allies and enemies who are human as a cover up attempt begins. The army is brought in and so this trifecta of scientists, aliens and soldiers collide, yet you remain silent throughout the unique set up. There are no cut scenes, no level finishes, no speaking from the most iconic game character in modern times, he is the silent crusader working his way through the puzzling hazards of a huge science facility sometimes armed to the teeth and then just with a crowbar. Of course watching the whole thing is a thin man holding a briefcase who appears every so often, a presence now known as G-man. All of these concepts were unique and were never done until Half-Life. Apart from those now iconic loading screens this game just runs from start to finish.

Half-Life on Steam

As a 10 year old kid, this game had a resounding effect on me. That first play through is something I will always treasure and now in modern times and as a person who works in a huge science facility with radiation hazards, cutting edge technology and of course plenty of scientists; I can’t help but think that Half -Life inspired that journey in some senses.

My debut novel carries similar traits that you’ll find in Half-Life, especially the concept of soldiers arriving after everything falls to shit. This game and its setting, story and concept was something that had never been seen before and dare I say it, has ever been successfully emulated. The story stands the test of time and was expanded upon for the subsequent sequels but this one, stands above them all.

Have you played Half-Life?

Blurb Reveal – Book 6 – ‘Darke Awakening’

Coming this September (that’s rather soon!), my 6th book and sequel to ‘Darke Blood’ and the next story in the Order of the Following Series;

Darke Awakening: Embrace the True Darkness

Here’s the blurb…

Darke Awakening blurb announcement

Of course any critique on the grammar/structural front is welcomed, I can’t really change the content in terms of the story as it’s already written… either way, I hope you are ready for what I hope is going to be quite an event. 13 or more sales on release day is considered a win. It will be available for Pre-order soon – I hope some of you will at least think about supporting this one. 

More information about the wider Order of the Following Series can be found here. All three of the books that precede this one are discounted to 99 cents in most territories. If they are not available where you are and if you promise to leave a review, I will send them to you free of charge. The book cover shall be revealed soon! 

Rock and roll, peace out and thanks for tuning in!

The Order of the Following Banner

Let me tell you a story…

This was going to be an Instagram post, but it deserves my best audience. Good things in this life are incredibly hard to find. Moments to be proud are too and even with everything that has unfolded this year from the depths of the unexpected, this milestone was always going to be celebrated. So let me tell you a story…  

alas

Ten years ago today I took a plunge into the unknown. Perhaps the biggest dive I have ever taken into the excitement of what could be. It was on the 21st of July 2010 that I first walked through the doors of the Iver Heath Drama Club a place that has always let me be whoever I want to be.

I’ve been to a lot of places, I’ve known a lot of different people. I’ve worked in different industries and socialised in many groups but I have never ever fit in anywhere like I have fit in at IHDC. This is the most important thing the club stands for; inclusion; something the world is always fighting for but something IHDC is ahead of the world with.

From being a performer which they always supported to writing their shows which they fostered and took on with care. To be a success in IHDC all you have to do is show up, embrace it and work hard – perhaps this formula can translate to success in all walks of life. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t of ever had the confidence to realise my dream of writing stories and now after all these years, here we all are.

I don’t write shows for me, I write shows for them. And after all the time that’s seemingly flown by, and especially after what is currently going on in the world, good things like the Iver Heath Drama Club deserve celebrating.

Thank you IHDC, for 10 years of memories, for the shows, the audiences, the moments, the friends and family I now have. Hopefully soon we can all get back together and do what we do best, put on entertaining, fun and all inclusive shows for the community.

Here’s to many more decades! Rock and roll man!

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Breaking the Darke Crusader’s Code’: The making of a book that almost wasn’t to be…

Some of the best moments come from the most difficult of circumstances in this funny old thing we call life. In early 2017 when I began to embrace the idea of drafting a ‘second book’ I never expected that journey, laced with internal creative difficulty and even physical health obstacles, to end up producing a book which is now my most critically and statistically acclaimed.

Of course I am talking about ‘Darke Blood’ which on the surface appears to be a vampire story, but in truth there is a hell of a lot more going on underneath the surface of just blood sucking creatures of the night. This post is a deep dive into the making of that story, and yes there will be some element of light spoilering with the intent more to advertise and spotlight the qualities of a book’s success that still fills me still with baffling but swelling pride. I’ve never really spoken about the process that goes into writing a book and they sort of get forgotten after being released. But what I went through to write ‘DB’ should be remembered, because it did not come easy and hence the swelling pride… 

Rule one in all writing: always embrace the good things that comes from it, especially the one’s you don’t expect…

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Before the books that now make up my back list (I have a back list? even that baffles me sometimes…) there was a time where I exclusively wrote science fiction with a hope to query agents, get a book deal, get a movie deal and thank the academy for giving me  this here best original screenplay award. Let’s just say the experience of getting nothing more than a few good people’s attention, none of them rhymed with Spielberg was humbling and as a writer and person, I grew up and started again mostly from scratch.

It’s never too late to start again, or even start. Starting is the first step to anything worthwhile…just start okay! 

The feeling of dropping a project that saw zero success was liberating to say the least and even though I left those sci fi books behind they stand as a testament to how I learned to write. Post writing liberation came my first foray into the world of indie publishing with a book known as ‘Open Evening’ which had some ‘success’ but before even sending that manuscript to my editor, like always I was looking to what would come next.

With 6 months until ‘Open Evening’ would see the pen of an editor I decided to get into another story which eventually became ‘Darke Blood’. My divine wisdom told me after writing a creature feature chase story with heaps of action I needed to do vampires next along with a slower more mysterious and fleshed out pace. Like everything I write, it needed to have some differential concept to the last project and the whole vampire thing would also be a tribute to probably my all time favourite character driven show – Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

What’s in a name?

Okay, so I’m doing vampires, that means the setting would need to be dark and shadowy, perhaps almost black like the night. This would tie in with the title and be both catchy and unique, something only someone searching for your work would find; and that’s a pro tip when coming to deciding title’s, make it stand out

There would be some kind of forest, one with trees where the leaves don’t fall and a town that’s small enough to realistically host vampires. In 2017 I was spending a lot of time in a place known as Iver Heath which is a neighbourhood surrounded by mostly trees and farmers fields. They have two country parks nearby one of them called ‘Black Park’ so in the beginning I just merged ‘Black’ and ‘Heath’ but it turns out Black Heath is an actual place – back to the drawing board but I was set on using ‘the Heath’ I just needed a word to put before it. Next came Dark, but as the history of the town began to spiderweb in my head, perhaps when it was established back in colonial times it would be spelled oldy worldy style and so ‘Darke Heath’ was born. Put the concept of vampires, blood and all that along side Darke, you have ‘Darke Blood’. Trust me this process sounded prettier in my head…

Black Park

Black Park in Buckinghamshire near Iver Heath in the UK

So we have a forest, it’s going to be shadowy and there’s a colonial history to the place. By the time I had reached this point, the Prologue had already been drafted. A page turning chase in the shadows where some not so happy campers are split up, they first find an old cemetery and then a house – the haunted house trope always, always has a place in my heart, it just does. At the very end of that sequence we are introduced to the perhaps slightly condescending main narrator. Open Evening had more of a pessimistic trope busting narration style, this one, straight up insulting, trust me those differences are important…

What’s in their names?

That narrator just happens to be named Blake Malone. The Blake I can’t recall settling on,  it came after I decided to use Malone which is tribute to the narrator ‘Edward Malone’ from Conan Doyle’s Lost World – a book I first read when I was 12 and then proceeded to get bitten by the literature bug. Blake Malone also shares a light Irish heritage like Edward as they both have a pale complexion and they both are recalling their account of an experience in going into the unknown.

blake quote

The second billed character and creature of the night/ bad ass ‘Caitlyn Turner’ came next. Her inspiration came from the world of video games. One of Fallout 4’s popular and bad ass companion’s is an Irish lady known as ‘Cait’. I gave her a full name and a backstory of depth and history which spans back to those colonial days and is inspired by the many episodes of ‘Angel’ that see’s a younger version of the title character in the past. She has a history of love, deception and fighting along with links to witchcraft. Her story serves as the second part of the first act and by that point should hook most readers in.

caitlyn quote

Another popular face in the lore of ‘Darke’ is the older gentleman known as ‘Angus Greene’ who is a pick up truck driving, helpful and kind country fella who’s family have been taken by the vampire threat in the Heath. His inspiration and name is tributed loosely to ‘Hershel’ from when it was popular TV show The Walking Dead. Although Angus is more of a fighter and perhaps a little more cynical. He becomes more and more of a leader in later books.

The Darke Crusader’s code

Blake Malone has arrived in Darke Heath for a ‘new start’ or so he says but after confiding in the reader only, he is actually in the Heath to investigate the findings of someone known only as the ‘Darke Crusader’ which is in fact an anonymous internet handle who has reported some weird things going on in the Heath before disappearing. This is the central motive as to why Blake has come to town but worryingly his recollection of anything before arriving is blank, and this works as the conflict our MC would overcome later on in the narrative. It also adds a unique psychological edge to the whole deal – so we’re already better than Twilight…

Much of the time during my writing process I will just throw open ended ideas into the mix, and originally what brought Blake to town was most likely going to be dealt with much later on. The Darke Crusader was originally in fact someone external from outside the character loop who would arrive and lift the dramatic lid later on, sort of like a murder mystery reveal. Unfortunately this concept didn’t really line up or work. Bearing in mind I was already 40,00 words into the book at this point and in April/May of 2017 I was suffering badly with sciatica – to the point where sitting, laying and standing hurt. Writing is still painful by the way… always.

The concept of this mysterious internet persona held everything together. After all it’s why Blake is in the town and why the story is happening. The magic word there is motive, which all stories must have, the why.

I just couldn’t find a way to link it all together to reveal this external character and break the Darke Crusader’s code and it started to piss me off.

The recycling bin beckoned…

Frustration loomed, and anger, lots of it. This was my second foray into writing an original story from scratch and I’m stuck. After an angry gym session (is that sweat or tears?) I seriously considered putting that many words into the recycling bin but then, inspiration hit me. Like always while in the car on the open road a solution appeared.

Never underestimate a good drive to clear the mind and find thoughts… sorry environment I need to think!

What if this Darke Crusader was actually already an existing character? What if Blake had no recollection of the past because it was removed in some way? Maybe he was already from Darke Heath in some capacity and then sent out by the evil forces to shut down this crusader. The whole plot began to turn back on itself and unfold into the series of twists and revelations that followed. I’ll admit I put Blake Malone through a Shutter Island level of mind melt hell. But it worked; just about… I was already going down the psychological route anyway so it lined up. There is also just a slice of the Shining in there too.

Big reveals turned into twisting revelations as the Darke Crusader’s code had been cracked in front of my own eyes and imagination. The characters figure out themselves as the story unfolds. Placing this character into an already introduced persona made for a justified twist that the vampiric powers were willing to go to in order to find out who this crusader was because after all they had control of Blake. He also found out where he had come from and it was much closer than he thought. Doing this aligned him with the forces to fight back and so the final act emerged out of such struggle.

Keeping it in the Heath…

Deciding to keep the Darke Crusader inside the confines of just the town made for the feeling of no escape. The world was just limited to that town between the trees. There is an alternative ending to ‘Back to the Future’ where instead of harnessing lightning from the clock tower in Hill Valley, they go to a nuclear power plant instead, out of town and away from where the story takes place. Comparing my stuff to that masterpiece is a little indulgent but keeping everything in the Hill Valley/ the Heath rounded the story perfectly.

Back To The Future Review | Movie - Empire

Overcoming it all to tell one heck of a tale…

The struggle I went through in both back pain related and story related issues may have made for the reason why Darke Blood stands out as probably my better books. The whole tying together in the penultimate act either turns people away or grips them more. It’s decisive and carries weight. And this is before the awesome editing and cover art work that tops off the whole deal. It didn’t come easy, and much like those difficult second albums, it felt like an uphill fight to tell a story that I desperately wanted to be different from Open Evening and so it was, but they are connected…

The Open Evening Connection…

Open Evening banner with DB and ch

In order for the past elements in Darke Blood to work (Cait’s story and the main antagonist), it made sense for the creatures seen in Open Evening to exist in the same universe. And so after all of that struggle and part of it was making the whole deal fit, I managed to tie it into a wider universe which is still growing today.

the order symbol (weathered with title)

Final witchy thoughts…

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This deep dive is in fact just more of a shallow swim into the complex but satisfying tale that is Darke Blood: You’ve never known true darkness. There is a whole segment of the book that is probably best described as ‘Light Witchcraft’ which I haven’t really mentioned here but later on becomes ever so important. This is also galvanised by the Sisterhood theme that runs beside the second billed character of Caitlyn Turner who turned out to be way popular than I thought. Her journey continues in the next Darke coming this September.

Looking toward the wider ‘Darke Series’

In what is hopefully going to define my work as an indie author Darke Blood works as a stand alone but can also be delved deeper into a trilogy which will continue this September but the Open Evening side arc is very important to that. They are tied together and will culminate together.

Have you read Darke Blood? Not many have but those who left reviews, thank you. 

Darke Blood banner with OE and ch

Undertaker: Last Ride – Review

To seek out closure in any aspect of life is a truly rare thing. For any performer to willingly let go of the spotlight and a sold out audience is something rarer. In professional wrestling many have never been able to close the door on their own terms and to be able to do that, to end a legacy and tenure on one’s own terms is something that doesn’t get seen very often. 

For those who know me will know that the pageantry and mystique of professional wrestling has had a place in my heart since before the years I ever aspired to pen any book, or write any blog but still to me wrestling is story telling. When it’s good, it’s awesome and of course many will laud the bad’s of an industry that once upon a time I aspired to get into. We’ve all heard of the premature deaths, or various scandals of new and old, most of us have even done a few laps on the whole ‘fake’ contemplation racetrack. The truth is wrestling is a performance; something I always dreamed of doing.

WWE The Last Ride: Who Should Be The Undertaker's Final Opponent?

Of course I itched my performing scratch big time by swapping out the ambition of stepping between those ropes to treading the boards and taking in the spotlight via theatre instead, and even though my ten years as a performer don’t compare anywhere near to most who have any type of career in pro wrestling, I can fully relate to the addictive nature of what performing is. For me and quite fortunately I had always been eyeing up a way off the stage, to have my day and be done, then to find a way to escape the pressure of learning lines, wearing goofy costumes, dealing with performers who don’t take things as seriously and of course risking my own mental health to stand up in front of strangers. That escape came in the form of script writing and so I haven’t fully turned away from performing but taken a diagonal turn towards new challenges. But most importantly my escape from performing was both peaceful and final. It was the ‘Star Wars’ ending, it was closure.

The Undertaker is a name that sits in the very upper echelons in the realms of pro wrestling. It’s a character that has never really been broken or had any type of backstage lid lifted upon it. There hasn’t been any ‘shoot’ type interviews over the many years by the man behind the ‘gimmick’ Mark Calaway who has operated, since 1990 mind, when the likes of Hulk Hogan headed match cards. Luckily for me I managed to see the Undertaker way back in 2009 when at a Smackdown taping in London where he faced off with the Big Show and yes his entrance is as awesome as it looks, even from the nose bleed seats…

Quite recently the WWE network has premiered 5 special and ever so candid documentary style interviews with the Undertaker in the form of a series called ‘Last Ride’. Each episode follows the Undertaker who, without many realising this really is his final ride and crowning piece to a thirty year career. It goes into depth about the feelings of a man who has gone round and round in his time in the squared circle.

Much of the theme focuses on family. The Undertaker has kids and a wife, Michelle McCool – a name fans of the female wrestling movement will know and you can see the strain it is putting on her concerns for a man who might not know he is at the end of his career. During these 5 episodes we get a roller coaster ride as it covers his final years and matches with have been rare occasions of recent, from his initial ‘retirement’ moment against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania to the few special exhibition matches that didn’t go too well; Bill Goldberg comes to mind. There is even some in depth look at the ‘streak’ where the Undertaker went 21 years without a loss at Wrestlemania – something that should have never been broken in my mind. In a sense it just goes round and round on a somewhat damning repeat for the Undertaker who is either looking for redemption in one match or finality in another. This vicious cycle is something he must break to find some finality.

10 Things We Learned From WWE's Undertaker: The Last Ride (Final ...
Without giving much away because even on this blog spoilers matter, the whole docu-series is well worth watching, even for the casual fan of wrestling, like me I don’t tune in much these days. You’ll see wrestling in a different light and through the eyes of a man who has been there the longest. ‘Taker’s interactions with others backstage is seen for the first time along with his emotional journey of seeking closure, it really is gripping. Those with their ear on the Twitter verse ground will know the Undertaker has used this show to laud his perhaps final retirement, and whether or not he is going to stay away from the spotlight and squared circle, this show has been the vessel for a great ending of a great career in performance, sports entertainment and the culture of wrestling. For the Undertaker it has been closure.

 

 

The stories that inspire us – Skyrim

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Buy The Elder Scrolls® V: Skyrim® from the Humble Store

I firmly believe that Skyrim may be the greatest video game ever made and stay with me here, even if you aren’t a gamer because there are very few video games that give players their own licence to shape their time in a world that is wholly interactive, beautifully constructed and most importantly immersive.

From the epic introductory music that leads into an ensemble of visual and audio beauty Skyrim follows the typical chosen one trope where you, the player are thrown in to a ‘Tolkienesque’ world of being a second coming who is able to face a returning ancient threat; dragons. How you walk down that path is entirely up to you, via magic, via combative brute strength or perhaps sneakily and stealthily that choice falls upon anyone who takes on this game making every journey unique and different – something all games stride to succeed in and maybe Skyrim does that the best and that is what sets it aside. No matter what action the player takes, the level system is counting, adding exp and shaping your character based on what it does in the world.

You can learn magic in detail, from conjuration to restoration but the real magic is all around. The end of 2011/start of 2012 was mostly a wonderful time in my life and perhaps that romanticizes the memories of when I picked up this game and took my first dive into this genre. Although I came late to the RPG genre at 22 I have certainly made up for it over the years with three Fallout games but for me it all started with Skyrim and I have decided to reignite this blog series because I have been playing the remastered version of the game on PS4 over the past few months and it reminded me of how beautiful this game truly is. Lockdown nights have been a breeze with Skyrim as a companion.

Skyrim Wallpapers 1920x1080 - Wallpaper Cave

Visuals of rolling hills covered in snow, tundras drenched in sunlight, mountains, sea and castle dominated cityscapes. There is no shortage of picturesque backdrops in this open world where anything can happen while the player chooses to do anything they like. Join one of the many factions from a secret sect of werewolves to a guild dedicated to thievery. Many a tomb await filled with the dreaded Draugr or it could even be an old castle filled with undesirable raiders to the ruins of an ancient civilization now populated with those pesky and tough Falmer. The game is a living and breathing work of art all of which can be further crafted by the player.

The actual gaming experience can be anything that player wants, you can pursue the main story line if you so desire or just go anywhere else the path leads you. Eventually destiny of an intricate and layered quest system will pull you in the right direction. What inspires me the most about Skyrim is the freedom for the game to let it be whatever the player wants it to be, the sheer scale of this production is on the grandest of scales and for that and to me it resides in video game greatness.

Can you name a story as accessible and immersive as the one of the Dragonborn? 

Darke Blood 3 year ‘Book-iversaire’

It’s been three years since Darke Blood was released. The reason I acknowledge this milestone is because during the writing process of that book I firmly believe I hit the point of no return on the road to becoming a writer. And plus in life, you should celebrate the little things… image

Now I firmly believe a true writer isn’t just someone who puts together one story and a bunch of concepts to then throw into the world. A writer is someone who can fashion a story from very little to create a lot multiple times. One book isn’t enough to find yourself as a story teller, but two, means it was no fluke.

I could lather it up with this artistic talk but I’ll just admit ‘Darke Blood’ was a pain in my ass to write and put together. 2016 – the year I drafted it was a tough year, I had bad sciatica, I was getting used to working shifts (albeit badly) and all around the writing stuff didn’t seem to be flowing. A few times I almost dragged DB to the recycling bin but now I don’t regret persevering once. Digging deep in times of struggle comes with reward and that’s what I got with ‘DB’.

It has become my most successful and most critically acclaimed book. Yes there a few moments where the story is a bit ‘out there’ and trust me I know it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to immerse a reader and that’s what story telling sometimes needs to be. As book it must have worked and this one fashioned and shaped my tenure as a pensmith while also shaping the Order of the Following Series which it is now a part of.

You can expect more from the ‘Darke’ series this September as the follow up and sequel ‘Darke Awakening’ arrives which is also a crossover to Open Evening and Cemetery House. Currently I am drafting the third and final ‘Darke’ book which will cap the pentalogy that is the Order of the Following.

Happy ‘Darke’ Day! 

The stories that inspire us – PlayStation 2

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Image result for playstation 2

It is the most successful gaming console to date and this week twenty years ago it was released; apart from the wave of some readers probably muttering ‘Oh god I am old’ this is a fantastic piece of history to celebrate in gaming and I was lucky enough to be a kid at the time… 

158 Million people owned a PS2 with the original release coming out in Japan on the 4th of March 2000 – the rest of the world would have to wait until later on in the year and me, I got hold of one after spending all of my 13th birthday money in 2002. To this day I still remember shopping around finding the best deal which came from the now extinct (in the UK) Woolworths.

Having been very lucky to own its predecessor PlayStation, like all kids I wanted the new thing and so that fresh plastic smell dominated the living room as I opened the packaging and set it up. The very first game I played was Medal of Honor: Frontline – which was a tribute to history itself while also nodding to the Spielberg epic ‘Saving Private Ryan’. A group of us crowded around the living room television while it took us away to artillery fire and allied soldiers on a beach in France. I have always embraced the imagination of where a game takes you and this was history.

Image result for medal of honor frontline ps2

PlayStation 2 had a lasting influence on my life and even now as a writer its still inspires my stories. Back then I had all the time in the world to play but not a lot of income so new games would be sparse and arrive via birthdays and Christmas. I could always rely on a service which doesn’t exist anymore: Blockbuster video game rentals… The race would be on to complete a rented game in the handful of days I owned it and many many times I succeeded but again with a small crowd around the screen.

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Red Faction shaped my science fiction writing….

Not only did the games of PlayStation 2 shape my writing influence they also played a huge part in introducing me to the music I would come to align myself with.

These were still the days when parents overlooked age ratings on games and by Christmas 2002 my uncle gifted me possibly the greatest PS2 game ever and not for the reasons you think.

Yes the story was great and the whole production was amazing and Grand Theft Auto Vice City is indeed an incredible playing experience but for me it was a gateway to rock music.

Image result for gta vice city

Bands like Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Megadeath, Motley Crue and Tesla would blare out of my room while I cruised along Vice Beach – this was my safe haven and back then rock music was bullying material at school. That music paved my interest into the bands I listen to today and without out it there would be no Rock and Roll man!

Looking back on this era of gaming, it truly was a golden age and I’ve only mentioned the tip of what is a huge iceberg of games, so check out my favourites below….

Do you have any PlayStation 2 memories?

Image result for gta san andreas Image result for half life  ps2 Image result for spiderman 2 ps2 

Image result for wwe smackdown shut your mouth Image result for metal gear sons of liberty Image result for dead to rights ps2

Image result for the simes ps2 Image result for simposns hit and srunImage result for max payne ps2

The stories that inspire us – ‘The Simpsons’

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Image result for the simpsons

America’s   The world’s favorite family get nowhere near enough credit these days and for a show that has been running one year longer than I have, that deserves a mention. The Simpson’s has not only paved the way for so many animation shows over the years but it has been the bringer of humor, fun and even some very moving character moments. It’s taken up a tenured residency in the homes of so many people and I know for a fact even today there is nothing worth watching at 6pm other than most probably the greatest cartoon ever created.

Many of us take The Simpson’s for granted and there is a theory that it’s nowhere near as funny as it used to be. While I partially agree, just the other day I laughed out loud during a moment of a very recent episode. The sheer amount of characters and their interactions make the show’s premise pretty much limitless and the 30 plus seasons carry that truth via Matt Groening who some folks would refer to as a ‘boomer’ but it is with his humor and imagination these stories come to life. Whether it’s a tribute or spoofing of a popular film or even a nod to a current political moment, there isn’t much that doesn’t get a mention in Springfield.

While some of the ever important characters may have appear to be parodies of those in the popular limelight , they have lasted in creating their own identities that people love to watch. Of course this is aligned with ever important real life celebrity cameos and a just a dusting of real world family values and you have the show. 

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Over the years there have been countless moments that have not only inspired my comedy but have kept me company since as long as I can remember. Who could forget the Springfield Monorail or even when somebody shot Mr Burns. Sideshow Bob must get an honorable mention while also nodding to Homer Simpson’s many many adventures, from tripping on chilli to tackling alcoholism or even thinking he had only days to live. The annual ‘tree house of horror’ episodes are now as ritualistic and trick or treat for Halloween.

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Above all it’s a show about life and how to embrace the funny side of it while also learning lessons. For years the Simpson’s has entertained us and for that is must be honored.

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Is there a chance the track could bend?

Do you have a favorite moment from The Simpsons? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stories that inspire us -‘Hamlet’

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

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Shakespeare, the original story teller. The true architect of language and narrative. You’ll find his influence near enough everywhere when it comes to the written and spoken word; sometimes you won’t even know you are using a phrase that he originally influenced. His works these days have even extended to cinema and television. 

Many of us came across the Bard’s work during our school years. Too many walk away from those lessons thinking his work is boring and almost inaudible to follow. That’s a tragedy in its own right and probably down to a lack of teaching execution. Although I don’t blame teachers not being an effective vessel to explain Shakespeare, like all art it’s  an acquired taste and also subjective.

For me Hamlet is the true epitome of story telling. It has almost everything a good story should have. Love, life and death with near enough all the elements that make a good story just that. Betrayal, deception and triumph; enveloped by that word ‘tragedy’.  They never taught me about Hamlet at school. I remember ‘Macbeth’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ but the Prince of Denmark and his laments I didn’t find out until I was cast as him in the play.

When you take on a work for the stage, be that by any writer you take a part of them and perform it as your own. You also sometimes; not all the time, become engrossed into their story and by becoming a character you only truly appreciate the weight of a story and it’s true power.

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Death is all around Hamlet, the character and the story. His ever so famous ‘to be or not to be’ monologue is about the contemplation of such and as the story unfolds death slowly reaches over near enough all involved. He urges love interest ‘Ophelia’ to get away which becomes an unintentional shun leading to the shuffling of her mortal coil. ‘Claudius’ plays the typical step father figure that is cliche even to this day – he did have a hand in killing his brother who happens to be Hamlet’s father the King; sound familiar yet Simba?

The only significant survivor by the close of play – spoiler alert; although you’ve had hundreds of years –  is ‘Horatio’ who utters those ever so famous words but before then we see a deceptive plot to poison Hamlet which goes ‘badly’ for Shakespeare’s standards along with a memorable duel. As I said it has everything and as our language continually evolves further and further away from that used in this classic tale, it’s so important we remember and honour it.

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For those looking to improve their craft on stage nothing will do it better than the words of William Shakespeare. From modulation and dictation all the way to understanding of how a basic story is put together and all the way to being able to learn lines – if you’ve learned and nailed Shakespeare on stage, everything and I say everything you do after will be noticeably easier. Great stories of tragedy or even triumph never fade and well I suppose the rest is silence….

Do you have a favourite Shakespeare work?